Sydney Kings Managing Director Jeff Van Groningen has said the Sydney Kings will begin the season with only two imports instead of three, leaving the team with an “ace” up its sleeve to use after the season starts.
Van Groningen and Kings management are confident they have a roster which can compete at a high level without having three imports. Kings management are prepared to back their Australian contingent initially and then consider finding signing the third import once they’ve been able to assess their NBL competition.
“We’ve signed two and we have one (import spot) that we will consider at some point. I would say it’s very a likely scenario that we start the season with two imports” said Groningen.
The decision comes on the back of signing some very talented players to development contracts. The Kings believe they have enough local talent to be successful after signing 215cm Deng Acouth, Sam Daly (brother of former Adelaide 36er Tom Daly) and former LSU star, 213cm centre, Darcy Malone to development deals this week.
After playing a number of pre-season games both in Sydney and China with some of the best unsigned Australian talent combined with some of the Kings younger players showed that there’s enough home grown talent to make some noise in the NBL this season.
These pre-season games have Van Groningen confident they can be competitive without having to find a third import for the start of the NBL season.
“With Isaac (Humphries) we like what we see, Adam Thoseby had a chance to play a lot recently and that’s been good for him and Deng Acouth has also impressed over the last few weeks” said Groningen.
New changes in the NBL rules will see teams allowed to suit up twelve players at both home and away games this season. With teams having only 11 contracted players that means one development player will be suiting up in every home and away game, making development players more important than ever this season.
The Sydney Kings have one roster spot left with it expected to captain of India’s national team, Amritpal Singh, who due to his Asian background is eligible to play as a local player is expected to be the team’s final signing.
For updates on every all players signed by every NBL team this season visit our NBL Free-Agent Tracker.
This move would result in the Kings being the only team starting the season without an import point guard. The Kings will instead rely on local players Jason Cadee, Kevin Lisch, Adam Thoseby and new signing Daly to handle the point guard duties.
In a league where the point guard position is the strongest position and is filled with NBA experienced players it’s a bold move, but one which offers great flexibility moving foward allowing them to test the waters with their Australian talent and adding a high-quality import for the backcourt or front line if deemed necessary.
Groningen went on the discuss how NBL teams are more financially secure than ever before and fans who are critical of teams spending too much on players and marketing with fears of seeing the league fall back into financial ruin.
“What I can assure fans who are worried about money, right now we’re very pleased with what we’ve spent, I believe we’ve kept things where we can sustain them very, very well”. said Groningen.
Groningen credited the “soft cap” which has been brought in by Larry Kestelman to the league as being one of the reasons the game is now healthier than ever financially. The “soft cap” was introduced last season which allows teams to spend over and above the salary cap, provided they contribute to an equalisation subsidy. The subsidy is then paid to teams struggling to meet the cap, which prior to 2016 had been a $1m `hard’ cap.
Van Groningen noted that when the NBL was at its worst, it was when the league was not allowing team owners to spend money on its teams and believes fans should not be worried about losing NBL teams now that clubs are in good financial hands.
“I don’t believe you should ever take an owner who wants to spend money in a league and tell him not to spend money on your sport. I believe it’s a crucial error and it’s been made before and when the NBL had its darkest days I believe it was because of a concern that owners were spending too much money on the sport” said Groningen.
Van Groningen cited the efforts of Raphael Germinder, owner of the now-defunct South Dragons, who had previously tried to invest money into basketball in Melbourne like Larry Kesltelman is doing now to revitalise the sport but was ultimately “ran out of town” by previous NBL league officials. were trying to revamp the sport of basketball in Melbourne like Larry Kestelman is doing now.
Van Groningen notes that fans shouldn’t worry about NBL owners investing their money into basketball and their teams, instead they should be focused on the fact that the league is making sure that it uses that money to be the betterment of the league as a whole.
“It is a knucklehead move to tell an owner not to spend money. If soccer had done that to Frank Lowy they wouldn’t have an A-League” said Groningen.
“What is important is that there is a way that some of what’s spent by owners wanting to spend money on basketball is that same of that goes to assisting the league as a whole, not just their own team, and that’s what the soft cap does”.
Other topics on the episode include;
- Jeff breaks down what he likes about the Sydney Kings pre-season so far.
- What Jeff has been noticing while watching the FIBA Asian Cup.
- What is the process Jeff follows when recruiting players for the Sydney Kings.
- Are the Sydney Kings owners AEG Ogden happy with the Sydney Kings success last season?
- What players the Sydney Kings are looking at for their final rosters spots currently.
- Should NBL fans be worried about teams over-spending and the league falling upon hard times again?
- Remembering the 2007 championship winning Brisbane Bullets and what made them one of the greatest NBL team’s history.
- How the NBLxNBA opportunity came up and the Sydney Kings role in making it happen.
- The Sydney Kings decision to run with two imports instead of three this season.